Social Media minus The Myths – Chapter 2 – Value creation

15th Aug 2010
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This is a guest article by Advit Sahdev, Founder of the Online Digital Marketing Agency ODigMa. They specialize in social media marketing in India with special focus on Facebook business communities. Read more about Advit here.

It was one of those busy days and nothing was going right. I had to file the tax returns of my company and as always, the work started at the 11th hour.

I had just come back from a heavy traffic jam - It took me 35 minutes to go half a km to get printer cartridges. I still fail to understand why do I need to take printouts in the world of scanners and e-filing and electronic signatures. Anyway, I did not have the time to launch a go green campaign, so I was busy setting up the cartridge in the printer and in parallel checking the final details to ensure that I can claim whatever I can and reduce my tax by every single paisa. It was 8 in the night and the papers had to go to my CA by 9 AM the next day, else he would not get the courier in time and I would miss the deadline of July 31st.

After a lot of additions and subtractions, scanning a mountain of bills and receipts and a 5 cups of black tea, I was all set. Just take the print out and I could go and watch The Truman Show on TV. I had seen that movie a thousand times and I still love to watch it everytime. Definitely a must watch for all those who think Jim Carrey can do just one comic roles. I also remember watching this movie after my first break up. So while I was busy dreaming about my favorite scenes from the movie and waiting to order a pizza, I suddenly heard a noise. It was not a door bell, it was not even the microwave, it was my printer. It was shouting at me and yes, I do understand its language and he was saying, "Don't you even know how to insert a cartridge! What if I put food in your ears and ask you to work? I have had enough, I need a doctor! and don't even try home medicines"

For a minute I gave up; laid down and decided to free up my mind. There was nothing that could be done now, it was 8:15 in the night and suddenly I received a call from the cartridge shop owner. He seemed to be in a lot of stress and could hardly speak. After half a minute of struggle for words, he told me that the cartridge given by him was not original and had a possibility of ink leakage. I told him about the error I got in my printer and he said that these were probably two different issues. However, he said he will replace the cartridge immediately. I was not happy as I explained him my situation and the critical nature of the issue. He told me to wait for 15 minutes and he would call.

Twenty five minutes later, no one called. I had already given up so didn't bother him calling again, but I heard another noise. This time it was the door bell and I was hoping it is the pizza guy. But it was not to be, instead it was the shop owner with a big bag in his hand. I was hoping that he got me 100 cartridges but wait it got better

He brought a printer with him and asked me where the old printer was. In the next ten minutes, the new printer was set up, the new cartridge was fixed and he even started printing the documents that needed to be printed.

I am usually very bad at remembering names, but I can't forget Faizal. Three years later, I have given him enough business directly and recommended him to all my friends (in fact I would be happy to refer him to anyone who is reading this article). We never have any problems with him, and even if there are some small issues, I know that I am in safe hands. We meet once in 2-3 months and still crib about the terrible pizza that we had that night.

I am sure all of you now know what I am hinting towards and how a good business adds value and creates "Life Time Value" for every customer. A short term focussed business would just care about the money it has made from one transaction, and try to get the maximum profit from that. He would not create "Life time value". In today's social media space and communities and one to one engagements and personal touch, if we miss on this critical factor, then we would rather not do social media and just focus on paid advertising. Social media is successful only if you follow the rules of an offline business.

So here is a summary -

1) Do not expect short term benefits from social media, it's not for the weak hearted

2) Engage, Engage and Engage - to keep your community happy and satisfied

3) Every single issue is to be treated with utmost care and urgency. Do not ignore and apologize when you are wrong

4) One single good word about you can make your business and one single bad word can break your business

5) Understand the Life time value of your customer and focus on improving it

Follow these golden rules and you are bound to succeed - Your communities and fans and followers will create a brand for you in their social circle, and you will have customers who will not go to your competitor - as it is not about the money, it is about value for money.

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